Saturday 31st July 2021

Red Sofa Interviews

Julie Futcher on the virtual Red Sofa

Watch the full interview here

Interviewer: Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Julie Futcher from The Sales Ace onto our virtual red sofa. Welcome Julie. Would you mind giving us a brief insight into your background and The Sales Ace?

Julie: Yeah, Hi Terry.

So my background is 23 years working in recruitment, and I know you’re kind of thinking, damn she looks good for that sort of age, so, yes, I am that old.

It was six years ago when I left recruitment, having had enough of it and set up, well, first of all, a business called the Sales Manager which was a Sales Training and Sales Consultancy, and then I rebranded at the beginning of 2021 to become The Sales Ace, and here I am today.

So what we do is Sales Training and Sales Consultancy and also provide Linkedin lead generation training as a service, should anybody want that.

Interviewer: We hear that business confidence is at its highest for a number of years. What advice would you give our viewers to maximise revenue growth? 

Julie: Yeah, it’s an interesting one, isn’t it. I read an article at the weekend which was saying, particularly, in the SME marketplace, that prediction is, well on track for there to be a lot of confidence.

So how can you maximise sales? I think now is a really good time to just sit down reflect and look at all your processes. So are your processes robust and what I mean by that is track the journey from a customer actually appearing as a lead and how you actually move them through the business and be really brutal with yourselves and ask is it effective? I’ve been doing a lot of work around that with our clients.

The other thing is about planning, and for me, creating a sales plan or something to work for is absolutely key because it helps you keep on track. It’s not a business plan, it’s not where do I want to be in 5 years time, this is a living, breathing document which shows you, you’ve sat down, you’ve thought about your business for 12 months, what revenue you want to achieve, and that can then generate activities and your sales pipeline, your marketing and things like that. So two things, review processes, and let’s get that sales plan in place. These are going to help you really maximise those sales.

Interviewer: A quote from your website, that sales and revenue are the life blood of any business. Therefore what are the most common problems of where the sales process fails to close?

Julie: Lack of planning to start off with, and let me just elaborate on that… and I know I get a bit preachy, Terry, about this, so i’m sorry. I’ve got my soapbox out again.

So lack of planning. Why is that a big hiccup? Well, it’s because people tend to keep things in their head. They’re working in the month, they’re not using a plan to sit down and strategically think about their business for the next two or three months.

When i’ve worked with clients, we tend to say what activity you do this month is going to start showing in month three, four and five, depending on your sales circles. So really, that’s the one thing that is a must for any business, whether you are a tiny, tiny business and you’ve just started out or a multi-million-pound turnover business, sales planning is the crux of it.

I think the other thing as well that I work with clients where we’ve got these difficulties, closing business Is people tend to forget that closing starts and actually the beginning of the process and not the end. A successful close of the sale is a build-up of all your activities that you have done and the way that you have done it, and the close is just a simple thing at the end.

So if you’re not asking the right questions, you’re not building that relationship, you’re not finding out buying processes, and you’re not understanding why somebody’s going to buy from you, you know, what the decision-making process is. All of that will shoot you in the foot if you don’t find out. So these are probably the main things that come out of conversations I have with clients, companies small or large.

Interviewer: Apart from revenue, how can sales benefit a business in other ways? (For example, identifying performance, skills and knowledge within a business?)

Julie: A really interesting question, that one Terry, And I think let’s look at it from an internal sort of point of view with the companies and externally. But let’s talk about internally. First of all, I think, looking at sales and if you know your processes and you know the journey that your customer takes through from performances point of view, particularly if you’ve got sales staff. If the sales aren’t happening, if they’re going to certain parts of a process and falling off.

My first conversations with business owners is about the training element, and it can really start to highlight what training is needed in the business. Again, it’s the same with skills, it’s the same with knowledge. You know, I cut back to the question you asked me at the very start of our conversation and what things can be looking at. Look at your sales processes, make sure they’re robust and know what needs to happen, and so that is a great sort of indicator internally.

Externally, sales is fantastic for business, because if you think about when you’re selling something to somebody and I don’t like to use the word selling, I know it’s silly with me what I call my company. I actually think sales is a problem resolution for money. So when we’re talking to our customers about how we can resolve our problems, we’re educating them about elements within their business and how they can improve on that, and about the industry sector that we sit in and how that impacts on their businesses.

You’re raising your credibility with your customers, and that’s a good thing for business, because the more credible you are, the more your customers or prospective customers feel you’re credible. This is what then leads to referrals, recommendations, and we all love that sort of thing.

And I think these elements really are, yeah, they’re the key ones, I would think. It’s credibility, it’s relationship building, it’s all about being present as well.

Yeah, I think that’s it.

Interviewer: Large organisations tend to have ‘sales teams’, how can a sole trader / small organisation, create a smart sales process bearing in mind they’re trying to get the new sales in and work on projects at the same time – Time is precious.

Julie: Time is precious, and I have this challenge myself because I am on my own within my business. What I built, is a sales process which is quick and easy, its also a lead generation process, which kind of feeds the funnel at the top, which are things that I don’t have to do, which are Labor intensive.

So I recognise I don’t have a lot of time, elements that have worked for me, and I know this because I analyse this, are things like networking meeting, attending those. Those are great for me.

Sending out email shots, doesn’t work for me because I don’t have the time to follow it up, so I don’t bother with that.

Social media is great for me because it keeps the profile raising. It enables me to establish credibility, which we’ve said before, can lead to referrals and recommendations, so that is something that works for me and I outsource that.

So I think what a business owner needs to look at first of all is to be very honest with their time, of what they can do, what they enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy network, you don’t necessarily have to go, let’s look at something else that works for you. To choose some certain activities, to give them a go, to analyse them and see if their working or not for you, get rid and try something else until you actually find that right balance of stuff that actually brings the leads in, that then helps you convert. That would be my advice. 

I remember when I first started out as a sole trader, and Terry, you probably have received this over your time. You’re given so much advice from people and that’s brilliant. People are very, very helpful, but it can become very overwhelming. And you then end up feeling that you should be doing all of these things. If you did all of those things to help generate business for your business, you wouldn’t have the time to actually fulfil the business that you bring in. So I heard somebody do a talk, and i’ll tell you who it was, a lady called Christina Robinson from Green Umbrella, and she was talking about these activities, and she said, the other thing you got to think about as well is do you have the time to do all the business that these elements will bring in?

So I think to summarise all of that and sorry, I think I gambled a bit, is look at your own time. think of what you’ve got, analyse what you feel is going to work for you, give it a try, if it doesn’t work, ditch that and try and find something else. But just be really realistic and don’t feel you have to do everything.

Interviewer: You run a range of workshops to help the sales process. Would you mind giving us a little insight into these?

Julie: Certainly. So i’ve got four online workshops that I offer.

The first one is Quarterly Sales Planning, which funnily enough, that’s what it does. It’s about helping you put together your sales plan and then to come along and review what you’ve done on a quarter plan for your quarter. 

So a lot of businesses will come to me on the first one, and we create the sales plan, and then they’ll keep coming back to me to actually review it. How did they get on and go through the plan for the next quarter? So that’s the Quarterly Sales Planning. 

I have Generating Sales by LinkedIn which shows you how to get your LinkedIn profile on point from a sales point of view. I’m not a social media guru. Don’t talk to me about algorithms or anything like that. I’ll show you on LinkedIn how to actually create leads, what your profile needs to look like, how to interact in the etiquette on LinkedIn to actually start getting some leads and some meetings from that. 

I run an effective Telesales Skills, Telesales Training. Again, that is about for those of the people out there that want to do cold calling, i’ll show you how to do it, how to structure a call, and then how to run a face to face meeting is exactly that really. I haven’t been very inventive in my title on my workshops, but it is about when you’re face to face with that person, how you run the meeting, what you say, body language, all of that, how you close it.

So those are the workshops.

I think the addition to that for some business owners, they might not have the time to attend a workshop, but still want to learn. There is always the Sales Club and that meets biweekly, it’s for an hour. This is about people’s ongoing learning. So we pick a subject and do that every month, but most importantly, all of it is videoed, so there is a library of training content which people have access to when they become members, which they can pick and choose elements out, and they can learn by watching that.

So that’s what we offer.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time today, Julie it was very insightful. You can find out more about Julie by visiting thesalesace.co.uk

Watch the full interview here

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